7 must-visit vineyards in New Zealand

New Zealand’s temperate maritime climate is ideal for growing grapes, and sitting outside enjoying the wine that the grapes helped produce. New Zealand’s wineries are found in some of the most spectacular environments, including stunning coastlines, and rolling green hills. Cellar doors across this beautiful, unspoiled country are comfortable and approachable and the winemakers and staff will be happy you came.

The wine regions in New Zealand can be broken down into: Auckland, Hawke’s Bay, Northland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Gisborne, Wairarapa, Marlborough, Nelson, Canterbury, and Central Otago. Here are seven wineries well worth the long trek over to one of the most remote parts of the world.

Waiheke Island

A 35-minute ferry ride from downtown Auckland, Waiheke Island is internationally recognized as an iconic wine growing region in New Zealand and has been accredited with numerous wine awards and accolades. The following two vineyards are must-dos when visiting.

Mudbrick

Mudbrick vineyard & restaurant on Waiheke Island has some of the most remarkable views on the island. The vineyard sits on a hill overlooking the glistening waters of the Haruraki Gulf and the city of Auckland. The property is surrounded by beautiful, lush, and colorful gardens. The restaurant onsite embodies romance and beauty in such a particular way that it is almost indescribable. The owners designed the restaurant in a conservatory style with wall to ceiling windows that slide back, allowing for guests to enjoy the gentle breeze in spring and summer.

In the winter, they have an ornate, wood burning fireplace to keep the room nice and cozy. The tasting room down in the cellar below the restaurant is exceptionally charming, and tastefully decorated with wine trinkets and accompaniments to bring back to your loved ones. Up a flight of stairs and around the restaurant is the attractive vineyard with hilltop views overlooking the property and the seas out in the distance. It’s so picturesque, it belongs on a postcard. It’s no wonder this property is so popular for weddings!

Tantalus

Tantalus Estate’s restaurant was designed so that the indoor and outdoor dining areas flow through the cellar door, providing beautiful views of the vineyard, and letting in lots of natural light. The main dining room has floor to ceiling windows and a stone fireplace in the center of the room with plush leather couches surrounding the fireplace. Past the main dining room is the greenhouse style room with floor to ceiling windows that open up to a nice patio outside. Surrounding the patio is the beautifully manicured vineyards and helicopter pad about two hundred yards away.

Another addition to this property that makes it so great is the brewery onsite and Alibi Brewery’s Lounge, a canape style function, reminiscent of a speakeasy from the Prohibition era, giving customers a sneak peak of the brewery onsite. The planning and design of the building and interior was created by Cheshire Architects and the attention to detail to second to none. Be sure to check out the unique chandeliers which look like winding tree branches hanging down from the ceiling, and twisting in every direction.

Hawke’s Bay

Hawke’s Bay is New Zealand’s second largest wine region and has been an abundant source of fine wines since 1851. The warm climate and lengthy growing season allow for a successful product of dessert wine styles, as well as, varietals such as high-quality Cabernet & Merlot blends, Syrah, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and aromatic whites. Here are two notable vineyards, 20 minutes apart from one another.

Mission Estates

Mission Estates, established in 1851, is New Zealand’s oldest winery. The restaurant and tasting bar are housed in an elegantly restored historic seminary building with stunning views of Napier. One visit to this winery and you’ll understand why it is the most visited winery in New Zealand.

In addition to the elegant French windows, spectacular architecture, and fantastic wine and food, this winery boasts a pleasant courtyard with spectacular views of the vineyard. While outside be sure to enjoy the exquisite, award winning, European style cuisine and fantastic service. After your meal, take your time and wander around the beautifully restored seminary building which is quite a paradox to the contemporary courtyard outside. Don’t forget to stop by the tasting room before you leave. They offer 4-5 wines for just $5, which comes with a complimentary Mission Estate wine glass.

Craggy Range

Craggy Range is a lovely family owned winery that was established in 1997. In 2014, the U.S. publication, Wine Enthusiast magazine rated it the ‘New World Winery of the year’. Take one step onto this breathtaking property, and you’ll see why. The cellar door is a wine lovers dream come true; gorgeous dark brown leather booth seating, made to resemble train car seating from the 1950s, adorns one side of the room.

On the walls are various size wooden cubbies filled with wine bottles, and beautiful framed pictures of the vineyard, as well as awards the vineyard has won. Out past the cellar door is the quad outside which offers a brilliantly relaxing landscape. Uniquely crafted wooden tables and chairs are surrounded by perfectly landscaped bushes and small square garden’s growing the highest quality vegetables for their restaurant, Terroir. Speaking of Terroir, if the food doesn’t make your jaw drop, the views out front most certainly will. Sit outside and enjoy the scenic mountain landscape in the background and the peaceful pond. Anywhere you decide to sit, the views are truly magnificent, as is the wine and food.

Marlborough

Marlborough is located on the top of the South Island, and is New Zealand’s largest wine growing region. In the span of just a few decades winemakers have embraced this small, geographically diverse and extremely sunny region of NZ, turning it into one of the premium wine regions of the world.

Today, 77% of the New Zealand’s total wine production comes from Marlborough and 86% of Marlborough’s wine production is its flagship varietal, Sauvignon Blanc. Here are two vineyards particularly known for their excellent Sauvignon Blancs and cozy wine cellars.

Cloudy Bay

Cloudy Bay was one of the pioneer brands of wines from Marlborough, NZ. The winery was established in 1985, at a time where it was unheard of to set-up a vineyard in Marlborough. The cellar door has a warm and cozy feel about it with barn-like vaulted high ceilings, small leather couches surrounding a stone fireplace, and sliding glass doors letting in lots of natural light.

Past the glass doors is an outdoor patio with couches, wooden picnic tables, upscale patio chairs, and out in the distance are cushioned hammock style chairs hanging from tree branches. Since Marlborough is also known for its fantastic oysters, Cloudy Bay also has raw bar open in the summer from December until mid-April. Be sure to grab a glass of Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Noir from the bar and sit out and stare at the mountains in the distance, the views will leave you speechless.

Spy Valley

Spy Valley, a family owned winery, is named for its close proximity to a communications monitoring station or ‘spy base’. The vineyard offers complimentary wine tasting and estate grown olive oil tastings at the cellar door.

Upon arrival at the award winning architectural building, you will feel like you’re at a James Bond hideaway, complete with pictures and memorabilia from the movies to match. The vineyard features an indoor area, and a small outdoor patio complete with wooden tables and chairs offering impressive views of the vineyard and the Richmond Ranges. While their Sauvignon Blanc is known around the world, be sure to try their Gewurztraminer, it has a luscious lychee flavor that lingers on the pallet long after the glass is empty.

Central Otago

The Central Otago wine region is the world’s southern most commercial growing region. Its best-known wines are its Pinot Noirs, but many white varietals are also very popular.

Amisfield

Amisfield is a specialized producer of pinot noir and aromatic white wines. The winery, a 20-minute ride from downtown Queenstown, offers a cellar door in a beautiful stone building and a lovely outdoor bistro overlooking Lake Hayes and backdropped by the Remarkables Mountain range.

The vineyard itself is one of the largest single vineyard estates in the Central Otago region, and the winemakers are proud of the fact that they implement organic grape growing strategies across the vineyard. Overall, the wines are great and pair ever so perfectly with the award winning, gastronomic food prepared by Chef Vaughan Mabee, whose skills were recognized at Restaurant Noma in Copenhagen Denmark. The “Trust the Chef” menu changes daily and offers the freshest produce and ingredients available on that particular day.

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